Smoking While Pregnant Increases Risk of SIDS

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS, is the sudden, unexplained, unexpected death of a child less than one year of age. In 2014, approximately 1,500 U.S. infants died from SIDS. It’s the leading cause of death in infants 1 to 12 months old. While the causes of SIDS are unknown, secondhand smoke has been shown to increase its risk.

Smoking during pregnancy can lead to an array of health issues caused by tobacco, for mother and baby alike. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have a miscarriage. Their babies are more likely to be born prematurely or have low birth weights. And their babies are more likely to have certain birth defects, like a cleft lip or cleft palates. Aside from these health issues, smoking while pregnant also increases the risk for SIDS.

October is SIDS Awareness Month. This month, Tobacco Stops With Me educates and influences parents and caregivers about SIDS and the harmful effects of secondhand smoke on babies. By taking the following actions, you can help reduce the risk of SIDS and other harmful diseases like childhood asthma and respiratory infections. And most importantly, this gives you and your baby the best opportunity to be healthy and happy.

1. Avoid smoking if you’re planning on starting or expanding your family.

When you smoke while pregnant, your baby smokes too. Infants who die from SIDS often have higher concentrations of nicotine in their lungs than infants who die from other causes. By stopping smoking, your baby will get more oxygen, allowing it to fully grow and develop. You’ll also reduce the risk of your baby being born prematurely. For free help quitting smoking, visit or call 1-800-QUIT NOW.

2. Avoid smoking in your home or around your baby.

Infants exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are also at greater risk for SIDS. The chemicals in secondhand smoke interfere with an infant’s ability to breathe. So avoid smoking around your baby, including at home and in your car, and avoid places where he or she might be exposed to secondhand smoke. If your friends smoke, ask that they avoid doing so when your baby is around.

3. Make sure to place babies on their backs to sleep.

Aside from secondhand-smoke exposure, other SIDS risk factors involve the baby’s sleep environment. Babies are at a higher risk for SIDS if they sleep on their stomach, sleep on soft surfaces or sleep in an adult bed with parents or other children. So for the safest sleep, always place babies on their backs. This position carries the lowest risk for SIDS, and must be used for babies at all sleep times — including naps and at night. Be sure your baby rests on a firm sleep surface, such as a mattress in a safety-approved crib, covered by a fitted sheet. And keep soft objects like pillows and stuffed animals out of your baby’s sleep area.

Click here for more information about SIDS and safe sleep environments.

Click here for more information about the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Click here for tips on how to tobacco-proof your life.

And for free help quitting tobacco, including quit coaching, text and email support and more, visit or call 1-800-QUIT NOW.

Published by Tobacco Stops With Me on October 24, 2016